Mr. Bleibtreu, is it actually true that you hate series?
Don’t hate, but it’s true that I don’t really enjoy watching series that much. Endless nights in front of the TV, that’s not for me. The new bond is already too long for me. Two hours goes, anything beyond that puts too much strain on my attention span.
Nevertheless, like now in “Blackout” based on the novel by Marc Elsberg, you keep playing in series.
Yes, but anything over eight episodes is difficult. Whether with Ferdinand von Schirach’s “Schuld”, “Faking Hitler” with Lars Eidinger or now “Blackout”, the series productions usually range between six and eight episodes. I still come from a time when Klausjürgen Wussow received calls from fans asking when he had an appointment free for an operation in the Black Forest Clinic.
In very long series formats, the actor merges with his character in the audience’s perception at some point. Do you feel uncomfortable?
Not only that, you play the same thing for years to come. I like to approach a character, to play it, but then to complete it again. Another season and then another, that’s not really for me, I love the variety too much for that. My mother told me early on: The worst thing about the theater is when you get caught up in a play that you don’t like, then it suddenly becomes a huge success and you play it for three years.
Elaborate productions such as “Faking Hitler” or now “Blackout” would have been shown in cinemas earlier or at least at prime time on private broadcasters. Today, such materials are produced for streaming providers just like in this case for Joyn. Is that a curse or a blessing for German film?
First of all a blessing. If only because many more role subjects can be served. The streaming companies give actors engagements that otherwise would not have had a chance. Also for interesting secondary characters who are written in such a multifaceted way that didn’t exist in the past.
But there were also demanding and yet successful series that were multi-faceted and multi-layered.
Yes, but they remained solitaires. Bernd Eichinger was one of the few who dared to do this early on, for example with the “Baader Meinhof Complex”. But he was still totally hostile when he made a three-part series for television out of “Downfall” in addition to the long movie in 2005. Actually, however, he was a pioneer for everything that is happening in the streaming sector right now.
Do you play and shoot differently for the internet than for a movie?
You shoot differently, but above all you write differently because you no longer depend on the classic structure of cinema films, but have a lot more time. It is like in the past with the transition from the record to the CD: the medium determines the product. It used to be the case for many book templates: too long, too complicated, not feasible for a movie. In well-written streaming series, you can now devote yourself to such material much more intensively, which actually benefits the authors a lot. In the past, there was often a lack of substructure in films: What are the other characters doing, what are the backgrounds? The authors often had to leave out such details, or the script did not even go through because the complexity of a novel could not be portrayed in a two-hour film. With streaming, such projects have a much greater chance of being realized today.